Thai cuisine is a simple yet clever combination of Eastern and Western influences harmoniously combining sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy flavors. Thai food variesdepending upon the area or region of Thailand the dish originates from. These regions include the north, northeast, south and central. The north tends to be a little heavier handed with hot spices, while the south incorporates more curry and lemongrass flavors they picked up from their Indian neighbors.
Traditional Thai cookery involved stewing and baking, or grilling. However, with the migration of Chinese people into the area that is now Thailand, Burma and Vietnam, frying, stir-frying and deep-frying of food became more popular techniques, and to this day pad thai (fried noodles) and khao pad (fried rice) remain classic Thai dishes.
There's a quick history lesson so when you try my Thai inspired recipe this week you'll appreciate the flavors even more!
Faux Pad Thai
I wanted to try my hand at creating a healthier version of traditional pad thai, which is why I call my recipe this week faux pad thai. It still features rice noodles, created from rice flour, but I added a few more vegetables and cut down on the protein from eggs and tofu. I love the combination of grilled food with a spicy complimenting dish. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did and yes, it does taste delish cold, although I wouldn't recommend it for breakfast.
-2 leg quarters of bone-in chicken
-1 TBSP light brown sugar
-1 TBSP rice vinegar plus 1 TBSP water
-2 radish, thinly sliced
-½ cup vinegar
-1 TBSP kosher salt
-1/2 pound dried rice noodles
-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-4 cups Bok Choy, chopped
-1 TBSP soy sauce
-1 TBSP fish sauce
-1 TBSP Sambal Oelek
-1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
-3 scallions, sliced
-½ cup roasted peanuts
-4 TBSP tablespoons cilantro leaves (optional)
-1 lime, cut into small wedges
Place chicken in a bowl, add the sugar and rice vinegar mixture and toss to coat. Heat grill and cook thoroughly.
Add the radishes to the kosher salt and vinegar inside a glass jar or bowl. Cover and allow pickling for 30 minutes.
Once the chicken has begun grilling, soak the rice noodles in very warm water for 20 minutes.
When the chicken is cooked, place a large skillet over high heat. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil to the pan. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the garlic and stir-fry briefly just until it begins to change color, about 15 seconds. Add the bok choy and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Press the vegetables to the side of the pan and add the remaining oil to the skillet. Toss in the drained rice noodles, soy sauce, fish sauce and Sambal Oelek. (Note: this can be found in most grocery's Asian food aisle and is simply chilies to give a dish heat without altering the flavors in the dish like using Sriracha, its chili sauce cousin). Briefly stir fry for one minute or less to combine the noodles and vegetables.
In a shallow serving bowl, plate a serving of noodles. Top with bean sprouts, scallions, roasted peanuts, cilantro leaves and pickled radish. Squeeze a lime wedge over the entire mixture and serve with a piece of grilled chicken. Serves 4.